Food is an emotional event.
Whether you mean to or not, you associate times in your life and events with food.
Even though she is long gone now, I can still smell and taste my Mom’s peach chicken she used to make us for dinner all the time and the chocolate chip cookies we used bake, package up, and take to the nearest convalescent home.
Those are foods to this day I still have such a pleasurable association with.
It can just as easily go in the opposite direction, as well.
For instance, I can’t bring myself to eat gnocchi from one of my favorite restaurants because seven years ago I ate it and then woke up hours later in the wee hours of the morning vomiting every bite of it as a side effect of the pain from a kidney stone. As good as it was to eat at first, the dish simply lost it’s appeal after an episode like that.
I used to love nothing more than to open my fridge and plunge the biggest spoon I could find into a tub of freshly ground honey roasted peanut butter from Whole Foods and eat it for a mid-afternoon snack until I saw my Sadie through my rear view mirror ballooning up and struggling for air after having one teaspoon of the same thing. You don’t forget pleading with God to give your first born child breath.
Or how about my past-time favorite breakfast option of some creamy vanilla yogurt with some hemp granola and berries scattered on top in a big mug that I could nosh on as I got ready for my day in the morning? That sounded like bliss until Jonah broke out in a massive rash and his lips started to turn blue when he had a spoon full. You just can’t erase the experience of sheer fear you have while you watch your baby struggle and you are alone in it.
Some of the events that take place around food are ones you simply can’t shake and they no longer mean the same thing.
Right now I am still breastfeeding Jonah and am continuing to avoid the allergens that pass through my milk supply to his system. But there will come a day soon where he doesn’t nurse anymore and I will be free to eat however I choose when I am not around my kids. But if I am honest, I will admit that there are triggers for me with food that exist now that give me a true level of anxiety instead of the familiar pleasure I was accustomed to. And the thought of weaning and gaining the freedom of choice is not something I’m really looking forward to like most probably would. The Allergist Mom has coined it as post-traumatic disordered eating and I resonate with her evaluation to the tee as a parent.
Will I still go to a restaurant someday soon with my husband and enjoy a slice of gourmet pizza laden with wheat and dairy? Sure. Will I do it without reading through the menu automatically weeding through all of the ingredients that are “no-no’s”? Not a chance. Will I do it without the flash of my Jonah writing in pain and me frantically grabbing his EpiPen ready to strike him in a last ditch effort to save him? Never.
If you are a parent having to integrate into this new world I am learning to call my new normal, know that you are not alone in it. Acknowledge it exists and then try your best to take a bite with no guilt. I will try my best to do the same.